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Use or repurpose existing buildings

Using existing structures in an adaptive reuse project is the best carbon-smart solution. Demolishing existing buildings and re-constructing new buildings is a huge source of embodied carbon emissions.

Use salvaged and/or recycled materials

Use salvaged or recycled materials whenever possible to eliminate the emissions associated with manufacturing new materials.

Optimize systems for material efficiency

Specify higher grade options to reduce material usage, and don’t use material where it isn’t needed.

Specify materials that naturally sequester carbon

Materials such as wood, straw, clay-straw, hemp, cork, sheep’s wool, etc., naturally sequester carbon and store if for their useful life. Many state codes are expanding to allow for these materials.

Specify materials manufactured with renewable energy

Materials manufactured with renewable energy have a greatly reduced embodied carbon impact as compared to materials manufactured with fossil fuel energy.

Design for durability

Use the appropriate product to withstand the wear and tear of the space to ensure that they’ll last the lifespan of the building.

Choose the right materials for your climate

Use the appropriate product for the building’s climate by understanding how each material handles heat and moisture, individually and in an assembly, to ensure the durability of the building.

Get to know the supply chain for your specific project

Understand where the materials for your project come from and the carbon implications of their manufacturing and transportation. Design to use the lowest carbon systems and materials.

Understanding your region and source locally

Knowing what materials are available in your region is the key to specifying local materials. Additionally, using local resources and materials reduces transportation emissions.

Use low-emissions transportation

In addition to having a lower distance of travel by sourcing local materials, the transportation of materials is part of a material’s embodied carbon footprint. Whenever possible, specify products that use low-emissions transportation per unit. For example, transportation via barge and train… note this should be balanced by the distance traveled.

Establish carbon targets

Establish operational and embodied carbon performance targets. Ensure that all parties involved in the design and construction of the building (including owners, occupants, architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants) support the targets and understand their role in balancing operational performance with embodied carbon emissions in order to achieve the established targets.

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